Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cloth Diapers at Daycare

Military dependent children at this Child Development Center at
When we're talking to new cloth diapering parents at the store, one topic that comes up often is daycare.  Parents are concerned whether their daycare will accept and use the cloth diapers, or whether using cloth diapers at daycare is even legal.  If you call and ask different daycares what their policy is on cloth diapers you will get answers ranging from "We can't allow cloth diapers because of daycare licensing laws" to "We have our own cloth diapers we us on your child while they are here, so no need to bring any".  How can it be that in the same state, in the same county, that you could get two such opposite answers?  The answer is education.  Many daycare providers are just not educated about cloth diapers.  They don't know what the licensing rules are, they don't know how to use them, and they usually don't even know what modern cloth diapers look like and assume they involve pins and rubber pants.

But All Things Diapers is here to help.

First off, let's take a look at what daycare licensing has to say about diapers.
This is an excerpt from the Minnesota State Statutes, Chapter 9502 on Licensing of Day Care Facilities...

Subp. 13. Diapers. Children in diapers shall be kept clean and dry. The following sanitary procedures must be used to reduce the spread of communicable disease.

A. An adequate supply of clean diapers must be available for each child and stored in a clean place inaccessible to children. If cloth diapers are used, parents must provide a change of the outer plastic pants for each fecally soiled diaper change. Cloth diapers, except those supplied by a commercial diaper service, and plastic pants, if supplied by parents, must be labeled with the child's name.

B. Diapers and clothing must be changed when wet or soiled.

C. For disposable diapers, a covered diaper disposal container must be located in the diaper changing area and lined with a disposable plastic bag. The container must be emptied when full, and at least daily.

D. Diapering must not take place in a food preparation area. The diaper changing area must be covered with a smooth, nonabsorbent surface. If the surface is not disposable and is wet or soiled, it must be washed with soap and water to remove debris and then disinfected with a solution of at least two teaspoons of chlorine bleach to one quart of water. If the surface is not soiled with feces or urine, then it must be disinfected with the solution of chlorine bleach and water after each diapering.

E. Single service disposable wipes or freshly laundered cloths must be used for washing a soiled child. A child who has soiled or wet must be washed with a disposable wipe or a freshly laundered cloth before re-diapering.

F. Cloth diapers, except those supplied by a commercial diaper service, plastic pants, and soiled clothing must be placed in the plastic bag after removal and sent home with the parent daily.

(if you don't live in Minnesota, you can take a look at your state's daycare licensing rules here to find out what your state has to say about diapers and daycare)

As you can see, Minnesota statutes are very cloth diaper friendly.  Individual cities or counties may have their own licensing rules that are more restrictive, but most abide by the state statutes.  So, according to the statutes, cloth diapers may be used as well as cloth wipes.  The only thing to note is that they require a fresh diaper cover each time the child poops, whether or not any poo has gotten on the cover. They're just trying to be extra careful about poo in a group setting, so you can't fault them for that.  But covers that have just been used over wet diapers can be reused so you should be able to bring your Flip or Grovia systems to daycare with confidence.

Now, what the statutes say and what individual care providers will allow is a whole other story.  There are two different kind of care providers out there.  One is the owner-operated daycare.  These will be your in-home daycare providers and your small, local daycare centers.  The other type is "corporate" daycares.  These would be large chains and franchises where policies are handed down by upper management that is not on-site.

Owner-operated daycares are usually the easiest to work with because many allow cloth diapers, and for those that don't, you can petition the owner directly to either change the policy or make an exception for you.  For owner-operated daycares who won't allow cloth diapers, it is usually helpful to have a one-on-one conversation with the owner with a diaper in hand to show them.  This is the time to break out your fanciest diaper with all the bells and whistles.  Don't bring in your ratty hand-me down prefolds (though they still work great, don't they?) and plain white covers.  Show them your Thirsties Duo Diaper or your Tots Bots All-In-One.

And if at all possible, show them a diaper with velcro fasteners.  Because then the comparison is easy.  You can say, "Look - velcro and elastic at the waist, just like a disposable diaper.  Elastic at the legs, just like a disposable diaper.  All one piece and waterproof, just like a disposable diaper.  No extra work or hassle, the only difference is that you send them home with me instead of with the garbage man."  It's hard to argue with that, and also hard to argue with a baby with little flowers all over her bum.

The Real Diaper Association has a great fact sheet to guide you in your efforts to use cloth diapers at daycare as well.  They had this helpful study listed on their info sheet...

"An issue often cited by daycare centers is proper sanitation practices (i.e. fecal contamination concerns). Actually, the American Journal of Public Health (Vol. 85, Issue 1 30-33) issued by the American Public Health Association (APHA) published a study which concluded that there is no significant difference in the amount of fecal contamination in daycare centers which use cloth diapers verses those which use disposable diapers."

If you are working with a daycare in the Twin Cities metro area, we at All Things Diapers are more than happy to come out to the daycare and do a demonstration for them.  We can do a mini-workshop for them and their employees to help them become familiar with modern cloth diapers.  It's a great training for the employees to have and can even be made into a parent education night too if they wanted to invite their daycare parents to attend.

Military dependent children at this Child Development Center at With corporate style daycares that do not already allow cloth, advocating for a change can sometimes be harder.  Restrictive policies handed down from the parent corporation may prevent sympathetic local directors from allowing cloth diapers.  You can still be an advocate for your baby and cloth diapers though.  Send information about how safe, sanitary, and legal cloth diapers are for use in a daycare setting to the headquarters or CEO.  If you find yourself in this sort of a situation and are looking for some information to send to them, we recommend using one of the great pamphlets available from the RDA along with your personal testimonial.  Let them know how you, as their customer, feel about their policies about cloth diapers. 

If you are still looking for a daycare and want to know which ones in the Twin Cities are cloth-friendly, we have a resource list for you here.  This list is by no means exhaustive.  There are many more daycares out there there that welcome cloth diapers.  We will be making more calls and adding to our list in the future, but you can help us maintain a more thorough list by letting us know if you find a cloth-friendly daycare that isn't on our list.

If your daycare already happily uses cloth diapers on the children, also be sure to let them know about our diaper service.  We love to work with daycares to provide fresh, clean diapers weekly.  Providing cloth diapers is a great way for daycares to boost enrollment and set themselves apart from all the other child care options out there.  Daycare parents, even those who usually use disposables, usually love it when they don't have to bring in diapers from home.  Then the provider never has to worry about bugging parents to bring in more either.  We offer discounts and custom packages for daycares that aren't listed on our website, so just have them give us a call at the store to figure out a package that meets their needs.

Happy Diapering,

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